Intelligent Design does not entail a belief in God

Denyse O’Leary recently wrote about an ongoing debate (December 7-8, 2008) about Intelligent Design vs. evolution. (1)

Atheist philosopher Bradley Morton said in an ID the Future Podcast:

“I actually find some of the intelligent design arguments at least somewhat plausible, and at least taking seriously within academia, and I’m unhappy with the unfair and false criticisms that a lot of my fellow philosophers and academics have given of Intelligent Design. I’m also, for the record, unhappy with some of the Intelligent Design arguments. I think that, even though some of them are wrong, they could be given better than current Intelligent Design proponents are giving them….” (2)

What I take from this debate is that, one might support the perspective of ID, scientifically, without being logically required to believe in God. Creationists on the other hand, may point to the scientific perspective of ID and note that this supports the existence of the God of the Bible.

Some atheistic evolutionists are quick to point out that a belief in the supposedly scientific perspective of evolution does not have anything to do with belief in God. Others (e.g., Dick Dawkins and his ilk purport that atheism is entailed by the ‘truth’ of evolutionary science).

As Dr. Morton writes on his website:

The doctrine of intelligent design has been maligned by atheists, but even thought I’m an atheist, I’m of the opinion that the arguments for intelligent design are stronger than most realize. The goal of this book is to try to get people to take intelligent design seriously. I maintain that it is legitimate to view intelligent design as science, that there are somewhat plausible arguments for the existence of a cosmic designer, and that intelligent design should be taught in public school classes. (3)

(1). Straws in the wind: Atheists and agnostics support constructive debate on design
(3). ID – Bradley Monton

On the Public Educational System

I admit to being a bit odd in high school–I talked to my fellow students about the theory of relativity.  I was planning on being a theoretical physicist, a computer scientist, or an engineer.  I was actually interested some books that were in the library (yes High Schools have libraries).  I lived in the sticks, so there were only about 10 rows.  I didn’t find much of interest int he school library.  However, when I was 16, I took a computer science class at a local community college.  After attending the first few classes, the instructor told me that it was useless for me to attend further except on exam dates.  After the first exam, he told me that my grade would only be based on my class project and that I did not have to attend further unless I wanted to.  My class project ended up being the class project.  And for the next 8 years, students were assigned sections of computer code that I had written and were required to provide an explanation for what the code did.

Thus, I deemed computer science to be rather useless as an educational pursuit.  However, while in the college, I did numerous searches in the college library system.  I read numerous books where Einstein and Freud were the topics, as well as one book that was a collection of correspondences between Einstein and Freud.  I read about cosmology.  I read about theoretical physics.  But when you get right down to it, I was interested in the “ultimate questions.”  Why are we here?  How did we get here?  How did the universe begin?  What is the nature of the universe?  And so forth.

What did I discover?   From a naturalistic perspective, I discovered nothing more than fairy tales.  Einstein believed in some kind of God, but because of a conversation with an uniformed priest, continued believing in an uninvolved god.  Freud was an atheist, despite admitting several personal aspects that led to his atheism.

So, what was to be concluded with my early experience with the public educational system?  What I ended up concluding was that the ultimate questions come down to issues of faith, and are very personal.  Since that time, 17 years ago, I have not found anything to contradict my earlier conclusions.

An Example of Why I'm Not Impressed with The Ivory Tower-Part II

Why is it that I have hostility toward the Ivory Tower1? In fact, I spent enough time there to obtain a Ph.D., you’d think I’d pay homage. While I do appreciate that I had the opportunity, and a few things that I learned, I did not disengage my independent mind during the process (I seem to be incapable of doing so). It really would have been easier to get caught up in the pursuit of the intellectual. All my professors were pushing my toward academia (“You’re too intelligent to go into private practice. You should be in academia.” WTF? I took it as one of the worst insults I’ve had. In retrospect, I realize this was the best compliment the professor could possibly give. But it was from the perspective of one ensconced in the Ivory Tower. So, now with a bit more maturity and perspective, I can appreciate the compliment).

I don’t come from a background of intellectuals. My family was blue-collar, working class, middle-class folks, living out in rural America. A lot of my friends were farmers. We didn’t have any wealthy friends (they didn’t exist here), and there were no intellectual elite. The closest university is 65 miles away. So, I think it is a bit more clear to me when someone is detached from the basic reality of humanity and life, than it is for others with a different background.

So, this is a lot of lead up, and a lot of (possibly unnecessary), information about me. What’s this post all about? I’ll get to the point.

In Part I2, of this series I wrote about an example of why I’m not impressed with the Ivory Tower. I cited specifically, the work of Dr. James McGrath, a professor of theology at Butler University in Indiana. Dr. McGrath was kind enough to express his willingness to engage the discussion further, but only did so obliquely on his blog.

He wrote in a comment here:

Thank you for engaging my posts. I must confess, however, that I’m not sure what exactly you find lacking in my theological credibility. If you could be more specific, it would better enable me to respond and continue the conversation!

I responded, my coauthor, DB responded, and others responded. James, did not respond. Or did he?

My coauthor DB wrote in a comment:

This is a similar argument to that which Judas used to scold Mary M. for wasting money, “that could have been used to feed the poor,” on perfume to wash Jesus’ feet. It’s legalistic, and, as with Judas, manipulative in its intent, since he wanted that money for himself! “…by opposing science…” I don’t oppose true science, nor do most rational believers! What I do oppose, as others, is billions of dollars spent on science experiments like the LHC, which serves only the egos and desires of naturalist/materialist and atheistic scientists whose only goal is to disprove God. How could those billions have been used for humanity? How many people could have been fed, housed and clothed with 8 billion dollars? Also, unlike material science, the Creation Museum is funded by believers, not the government, which uses tax payer’s hard earned cash! I’m sorry, but your arguments seem to be manipulative and political in nature, which tells me something about what you do believe.

Dr. McGrath subsequently followed up on his blog with two posts.

Judas and the Field of Blood
30 Pieces of Silver

So, while I find obliqueness to be interesting, I find it to be a bit of a cop-out to direct communication. If you believe in your ideas enough to present them to the public, then why not defend them in a direct way instead of challenging the story of Judas. Perhaps the comments of DB hit home a bit?


ID and Counterorthodoxy

Denyse O’Leary has an interesting post about Thomas Nagel’s views on ID in the educational system. (1) Thomas Nagel is an atheist philosopher from New York University. (2) I found this quote to be interesting.

The political urge to defend science education against the threats of religious orthodoxy, understandable though it is, has resulted in a counterorthodoxy, supported by bad arguments, and a tendency to overstate the legitimate scientific claims of evolutionary theory.

It seems to me, that the rampant hysteria of many naturalistic evolutionists about the ID movement, has indeed caused many evolutionists to overstate the scientific claims of evolutionary theory. They seem bent on saying, “But we can explain that! You’re being stupid again!” They then resort to “just so” stories out of a fear that ID might get a leg up on them. They’ve been doing that ever since Darwin anyway, but it appears to have taken on a tone of desperation in recent years. There’s not much room in legitimate scientific inquiry for desperation. The scientific method, at its best, is a tool for increasing the objectivity of observations. It is not a panacea for establishing truth. Desperation negates the scientific method. The results of science are only as objective as the interpretation of the results (Garbage in garbage out; as the frequent commenter Olorin notes who is on hiatus in Australia and vociferously disagrees with me in most ways).

While I agree that there is a counterorthodoxy element to the Darwinist movement, there is also orthodoxy. And with the orthodoxy (3) of the Darwinists, ID and Creationism are seen as apostasy (4). In the hallowed halls of higher academia, one must be an orthodox evolutionist in order to thrive and survive, lest you be naturally selected for career death. (5) This is true to a lesser extent in my chosen field of psychology. There seems to be a bit more humility in the field of psychology than the field of biology–although I use the term rather loosely as psychology has the highest percentage of atheism of any other field in the US (67%). I can only hope that Darwinism matures. If your theory is sound, what need have you of desperation and hysteria? I hope that Darwinists can, eventually, obtain the much-needed objectivity required for scientific inquiry, and calm down a bit. It really is okay to say, “I don’t know.”

(1). Intelligent design and high culture: Philosopher says teaching students about intelligent design should be okay, Denyse O’Leary

(2). Thomas Nagel
(3). Orthodoxy. Wikipedia.
(4). Apostasy. Wikipedia.
(5). Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Creationists Weigh in on the Large Hedron Collider (LHC)

However, our guess is that no matter what happens when the beams collide, researchers will use it to justify and/or explain what they believe happened in the moments after the big bang. After all, these scientists have faith that they are recreating big bang conditions; they will likewise have faith that the results mimic the “original” big bang.

The problem is that because the big bang was (allegedly) a one-time event—just like creation in Genesis—no amount of “repeating it” nor any scientific experiments could provide evidence for it. Rather, it must be accepted on faith, and then the results interpreted within that framework. In other words, the LHC experiments will no more confirm the big bang than creationists could confirm Genesis 1 by shining a flashlight on a swimming pool on a dark night, saying, “Let there be light” and leaning over the surface of the deep. (1)

Just today, I watched a special called The Next Big Bang on the History Channel about the LHC. Honestly, I found it more than a bit silly. The scientists, in the naturalistic fairy tales, noted that we know what happened up to a few microseconds from the start of the “Big Bang.” They purported that the LHC will take us back within a nanosecond of the start of the “Big Bang.”

As for me, I wonder how much the 8+ billion dollars that was spent on this essentially worthless experiment, could have been applied to real-world problems, and how many human lives could have been saved with that money. It strikes me as a big effort to show that “God does not exist,” rather than anything useful. Indeed, one person already committed suicide out of fears that another big bang would occur. (2)


Update: Please also see my co-author’s post on the LHC.

Some Views on the Modern Educational System and the Value of Naturalistic Evolution

My co-author, DB, wrote:

And yet, along with Skinner and many others, our education system has been heavily influenced by these atheistic ideas. As Mynym pointed out, at the end of his comment, our schools have become battle zones, where parents can’t be assured that their children will return home safely or, if they do, educated. Our education system, as well as our society, is despotically run by material science, the government and corporate agendas (who, by the way, are in the sack with each other), which have little to do with learning, values, ethics or morality.

Indeed! John Dewey was a psychologist who ended up being very influential in the American educational system. Unfortunately my field bears a lot of the responsibility for both advancements and ills with the modern educational system. Based on my experience with patients, the special educational system, eventually largely developed out of the work of Dewey, and other psychologists, has show much success. However, the general educational principles advanced by psychologists have variously resulted in both negative and positive effects on our culture and the learning of children.

Dewey purported,

“while honoring the important role that religious institutions and practices played in human life, rejected belief in any static ideal, such as a theistic God. Dewey felt that only scientific method could reliably further human good.” (1)

And as DB continues,

Material science wants students who have been been fully indoctrinated into a belief system which denies anything greater than man and, of course, science: the scientist cries, “Where will the tax supported funding come from if someone blows the whistle on our weak theories and science adventures?”

Research on the ‘focus of research’ (meta-research?), has basically shown that it follows the funding. Not only that, but the research outcomes tend to support the viewpoints of the funding source. This oftentimes, has an unconscious basis in human psychology, and needs to be considered in the “critical thinking,” that the commenter Carl Sachs has noted as very important. This pertains to biology, evolution, psychology, and medicine. Although I am not against “basic science,” the ‘where the rubber hits the road’ aspect of research (applied science), ultimately bears more importance in my mind. I pay taxes, and I think I do demand my tax dollars produce some potential real world benefits to human beings as DB has stated in a different way before. So, I continue to be interested, in a critical sense, in the applied value that naturalistic evolution has shown to society. In other words, how have folks living their lives on a day-to-day basis benefited from the highly speculative, and largely less than correlation research, on naturalistic evolution?